Monday, August 23, 2010

A letter from Mother 'Cile

For a change of pace I thought I would include a letter to Maj. Gillham from his mother-in-law, Lucile Kiser Holsenbeck, who was known to everyone in the family as Mother 'Cile.  We don't learn too much new or earth shattering in this letter, but it is interesting to hear about the family from a different perspective.

Atlanta, Ga.
April 8, 1946

Dear Bill,

I really am ashamed for not writing to you sooner and thank you for the lovely handkerchief you sent me for Christmas, and the beautiful scarf and the much-needed silk hose you sent me on my birthday.  I do appreciate them all very much, and I think you were wonderful to remember me on my birthday -- and Pop was quite thrilled over his pretty handkerchief and socks on his birthday.  Of course, it is always nice to be remembered, but especially from someone so far away, so accept our sincere thanks.

It is wonderful having our two daughters and four granddaughters with us.  We have lots of fun and good times together, but we are indeed a busy household, and there is a never a dull moment, something happening all the time.

The girls go to dancing twice a week, to the scout meeting and for the past several weeks Emily has been going to a class of instruction at the church, as she expects to join the church at Easter.

Bryant left Wednesday for Camp LeJeune to meet Carl.  She left Margaret with us, and when Carl gets his leave Bryant and Carl will come back for Margaret.  His negro soldiers will have to be processed and discharged before he gets his leave.  I do not know whether they will leave Margaret here with us until school is out or not.

The children have a great time together, and Margaret wants to do everything Monty does.  Frances has been wonderful about taking the children out to see different things around Atlanta.  Hurt Park is one of the show places in Atlanta now, with 15,000 tulip bulbs, and they are in bloom now.  There is to be a tulip show April 13th and 14th at the Auditorium and we plan to go and take the children.

The things you have sent Frances and the girls are certainly interesting, as well as handsome and beautiful.  The brass is handsome and Frances has been trying to study up on the art, etc.  The lacquer arrived Saturday and the whole family is excited to the 9th degree when a package arrives from Bill.  The linen you sent is another valuable item, for linen is sky high here.  I imagine the white cloth would cost about $75 or $100 here.

Mother was delighted with the attractive fan you sent her.  She has been quite ill, but Sunday I took her to ride, the first time she had been out in some time.  She enjoys the children so much.

Martha is the best baby I ever saw.  Anything is all right with her, and Emily and Monty are so sweet to her.

I think it would be grand when you get out of the army if you and your family could settle in Atlanta.

Friday Frances went to the History Club with me.  Mrs. Watters and Mrs. McNeil entertained at the Women's Club and I was so proud of my daughter.  Tomorrow night we are going to the Public Affairs Forum, and I am so glad to have the opportunity of going out with my daughter and knowing our grandchildren.

We think of you constantly, and I want to thank you for taking such good care of our daughter and grandchildren.

Much love from

Mother Cile

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Frances thinks about living in Fernbank

Today's letter from Frances is historically interesting in that she describes a bit about the early stages of the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.  I remember as a child visiting Fernbank when it was what I thought was just a big bug collection in a small old building.  From what I can gather online, the house that Frances talks about below was owned by Col. Z.D. Harrison and was purchased in 1938 by a group wanting to set up a conservancy.  Frances drew a floor plan/property map of the house, which I have scanned below.

April 8, 1946

Dearest Angel,

The lacquer ware came .  Also the brocade bag with the green silk.  Margaret's doll (most gratefully received) and the Victrola records arrived in excellent condition.  The records are most interesting.  The children's record is darling, I think.  I guess I am not accustomed to such vocal renditions as the male voices gave, I think.  American sense of tone is much easier on the ear.  Anyway, I certainly enjoy playing the records.

The postcard holder is simply lovely.  As you said, it will be interesting to see how the new lacquer pieces wear.  I have been reading up on lacquer ware in the book I have on Japanese art.  It mentioned that the oldest pieces of Japanese lacquer ware were on exhibit at the museum at Nara.  Of course, the book was written before the war.  The pieces I refer to were made around 700 to 800 A.D.  Like everything else, lacquering was imported from China and Korea.

There are only black, red and green lacquer ware, as no vegetable dyes will mix with the lacquer.  The finest pieces are black or red encrusted with gold.  Also rare, elaborate pieces have been inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

I was interested in your account of the art exhibit and the tea connected with it.  We were all amazed at the size contrast in the pictures of you and the Japanese lady.  Emily said that she could understand why you sent such small things to us -- the people were small.

Today I took the girls out to Fernbank.  You turn off of Clifton Road, opposite the golf course of Druid Hills Golf Club.  The property extends from there to the to little road you and I went on to see the sun rise one morning after a Pan Hellenic dance.

It is the former estate of a wealthy land owner.  The house is still there.  The house is built in the style of the Snowden home in Memphis.  There is the former stable, servants home, gardens and woodland.  The Scouts, Campfire Girls, etc., us it in summer as a day camp.  Weisiger is president of the Fernbank association, which hopes to make it a children's recreation area.

A little theater group had made a stable playhouse once, but things have been neglected during the war.  Emily and Monty were entranced with the old stable to roam through.  They enjoyed the woods and paths.  We found some sweet shrub.  Find one enclosed.  The woods were so full of memories for me.  The trees, violets, the hills, the earthy smells brought back visions of you.  Once, I started to run a bit to catch up with you and show you a sweet shrub bush just covered with blossoms.  Then with a little pang of remembrance I realized that you weren't just ahead in the path but thousands of miles away in Tokyo.  Anyway, I did pick off the blossoms to send you with all my love.

I think I could get the three-room servant's house if I agreed to be caretaker.  It would be a place for us to start in if you come home in June and start with the telephone company here.  I talked to Mr. Weisiger about it and he thought I might make a deal with it until September at least.

The house is in need of repair, but it has water and electricity and a good roof.  The ceilings are high and there's a fireplace in each room.  As soon as I saw it, I thought that it would be fun to fix it up and that I'd love to live in it, because it would afford the children such wonderful places to play.

There is the floor plan -- [see below]

I guess it would not be practical as there are no closets and we'd have to move to something larger, but I start wanting to make a home at the drop of a hat or something.

And the Scouts will be having day camp out there.  It would be company and nice companionship.  Anyway, I had to write it to you.

Tomorrow I shall write you in detail of the recent pigeon funeral we had around here.




Below is the floor plan and property map that Frances drew.  Unfortunately, the last part of her letter from the other side bled through, so it is difficult to see everything.  Be sure to click twice on this image.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Maj. Gillham secures a movie camera

This is an interesting letter for family members since it hints at the existence of movies that Maj. Gillham may have taken while in Japan.  His 8mm film collection is legendary in the family, but I don't recall ever seeing any film taken while he was in Tokyo.  It may be that, contrary to what he says in this letter, he never made duplicates of the films he is taking with the borrowed camera.  And we may yet hear about what actually happened in subsequent letters.

Maj. Gillham has also given up on the idea of traveling home via the Mediterranean, due mainly to the high tolls exacted by the British for use of the Suez Canal.  I am not sure what the tolls were in 1946, but today, with the canal owned jointly by a private company and the country of Egypt, the average toll per ship is $150,000.

There is a second letter added after this letter below which was mailed on the same day and which was used as a cover letter for some photographs.

8 April 1946

Dearest Darling,

We have been very busy for the last few days trying to meet an advanced deadline for the current summation.  I have received several letters from you recently, including the registered one.  It came a little slower than the others, but much faster than the old ship-borne mail.

A few minutes ago Marshall Brandon walked in.  I had tried to get in touch with him, but the address you sent me was Co. H.  He is really in Co. A.  He had just gotten word of my address.  He seemed to be a very nice young fellow -- reminded me somewhat of Father.

I am sorry to hear of Mother Ki's trouble.  Hope she is better now.  I don't think Mother is getting along too well either.

I got a letter today from Nellie Montague.  She said she was much better now but that John was ailing.

I recently sent a package to Ellen with one of those white table cloth sets for her and Earnest, a silk scarf for Terry and some Jap army insignias for Monte.

Your most recent letter is the note on the card with the cute little deer on it.

It is cherry blossom time here now.  I have been itching for your movie camera.  Recently I have worked out an arrangement which may help.  A newly arrived civilian employee assigned to my Section, a Miss Linzel, brought a camera just like ours.  She has some black and white film and two rolls of color.  She had never taken any movies, so I am helping her and I am going to get duplicate sets of the film.  We just went down  to the Ginza and took some B&W of the crowds.  Tomorrow we are going out and have lunch with Geo. Bull and take some shots of a parade taken from the roof of the Dai-Ichi Bldg.

My most recent Japanese children's song is one about spring.  It has a cute little tune and would be translated:

Spring has come, spring has come
Where has it come?
It has come in the mountains
It has come in the fields
It has come in all the countryside

Then there are other similar verses for buds, flowers, etc.  I haven't been able to get a record of it, but I have picked up several other records.

I love you, my darling, and I am counting the days until I can again hold you in my arms. 

I don't think there is much chance of my going by the Mediterranean because of the exorbitant British toll at Suez.  I think I told you that once.

I am anxious to see what kind of a suit you got.  I'll bet you look pretty in it.

I don't know what to say about the Bermuda trip.  Go ahead and investigate it so we will have the facts.  It would be lovely if we could do it.

Lots of love,



8 Apr 46

Dearest Love,

Here are a few more pictures.  They were mostly taken on my last weekend trip to Miyanoshita.

I love you.  I'll be seeing you again before long, and won't I be glad.

Lots of love,


Friday, August 20, 2010

Maj. Gillham learns the date of his departure

Today Maj. Gillham learns of his release date, and the slow process of his homecoming is now being put into motion.  He talks about receiving an Omnibook, which was a sort of Reader's Digest wannabe, with condensed versions of books.  In that way it was also very similar to Coronet magazine, which he discussed in the previous letter, having just gotten a gift subscription from Mother 'Cile.

4 Apr 46

Dearest Lovely Dovely,

You say you like that?  Well, I like you too.

Received the other carton of cigarettes and the Omnibook.  Many thanks.  I have been reading the biography of Eisenhower in it.

Yesterday I also got a letter from you dated 24 Mar and one of the enclosures included the letters from the Posts.  It does make me feel much closer to you when then mail doesn't take so long.  I got Monty's letter and thought her picture of "boy chasing girl" was fine.  She is catching on early.

Just now another letter from you came.  It was dated 27 Mar.  I am sorry you haven't been getting enough exercise.  Hope you can get out more now that spring is coming.

I have been pushing lately to get released soon, and today was informed that I would be declared surplus on 22 Apr.  That doesn't mean I would leave immediately, but on that date the wheels will start turning toward getting me home.  I will be able to leave by 1 May.  In that case, I should be home before 1 June, unless I go by the Mediterranean.  I don't know much about the possibilities of that yet.

Yesterday Paul Zumwalt walked in.  He was on his way home.  His ship had gotten part way across the Pacific and had mechanical trouble and had to be towed back here to be put in dry dock.  For five days after they returned they weren't allowed off the ship.  It didn't seem to be bothering Paul much, but Dick Johnson was on the same boat.  I haven't seen Johnson, but Zumwalt said he was about to burst a blood vessel, and wanted to start a revolution or something of the kind.  I can imagine, can't you?  I had Paul to dinner.

I also got a letter today from Addie, Mother's nurse.  She said Mother had had a heart attack recently.  She hadn't seen Elizabeth or Ruth in about two months.

Mr. Nagano, my Japanese businessman friend, came by the office yesterday to bring me an obi for you.  He had mentioned several months ago that he was going to give me one, but I had about forgotten about it.  It is a very nice one, but not exactly the colors I would choose to go with your kimono.  However, they don't seem to bother much here about the colors as long as they are bright.

I hope your fever blister is well now.

You are smart to be running a scout troop.

I wish I could see Emily joining the church.  I'll bet she looks sweet.

The black specks on the shrimps were eyes, I think -- excellent flavor.  I am certainly looking forward to that meal you promised me.  I'll go off my diet that day.

Lots of love,


Thursday, August 19, 2010

April Fools Day letter from Japan

This is an April Fools Day letter from Maj. Gillham, but there is no prank in it.  He tells of his visit to the mountains with his friend Wilson and a package he received from Frances.

He talks about Russell McPhail chocolates, which I wasn't able to find anything about on the Web.  Apparently, though, they shared some of it at one time during their courtship or married life, since it brought back memories for Maj. Gillham.  And also, we find out that the two of them met on April 6, but I would have to ask Monty, Emily or Martha about what year that would have been.

1 Apr 46

Dearest Lovely,

I wonder how my little darling is on this fine April Fools Day?  Did you get any jokes played on you?  I'll bet you did with all those children around.

Today the package mailed 11 Feb and marked "Special Delivery" came.  It contained the cigarettes, bittersweet chocolate drops, mints, the jellies in the pretty little bottles, the GW coffee, and the Russell McPhail Chocolates.  The last item brought more than just the chocolate itself -- it brought many happy memories also.  Thank you very much for it all.  The package came thru in good condition.  And thanks also for the Valentine.  Too bad we couldn't have been together and gone to all those places together.

This weekend Wilson and I went to Miyanoshita and spent the night at a Japanese hotel.  Miyanoshita is a resort down in the mountains near Fujiyama.  There is also a big western style hotel there, a very fine one, that has been taken over by the Army for a rest center.  We rode on a cable car and climbed around the mountains.  It is beautiful country.  The plum trees were in bloom and I think the cherries will be out in about another week.  There were some interesting shops there, but everything was so high that I got disgusted and wouldn't buy anything.  Sunday we didn't have a car but I ran into Barron and borrowed one from him and we drove back in the mountains to a beautiful lake with Fuji behind it.  I took some pictures and hope they turn out good.  Today I felt greatly rested and refreshed, as a result of the trip.

I just received a notice from Coronet that Mother 'Cile had given me a subscription.  I haven't received the magazine yet but don't know of any I had rather have.  I was certainly nice of her.

You write me such sweet letters that I am afraid mine sound prosaic and matter-of-fact.  I would like to make them ring with poetry, for the thought of you stirs a song in my heart.  I am sending you a little message via the bank at Charlottesville.  I hope it reaches you by 6 Apr, for the day that I met you was truly a great day in my life.

By the time this reaches you, I will have been away about six months.  I hope, and don't think it will be, much longer.

I will try to get the pearls for Bryant and the kimono for Margaret off tomorrow.  I think it is fine that Carl can get home.  Does he expect a stateside tour now?

Loads of love,


P.S.  In the "valentine" I notice that "San Antonio" was on at the Fox.  I just went to see it downstairs.  It was good "shoot 'em up" Western in Technicolor.  The final rounds of the gun fight were in the ruins of the Alamo.  I wish I could have had you by my side, but at least I could "remember the Alamo."   WTG

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Seven letters arrive in Tokyo

Letters from home are now arriving with increased frequency in Japan, and Maj. Gillham writes this rather long letter responding to all the new correspondence he's received.  This letter came to me with no envelope, so the enclosures he mentions are no longer extant.

29 Mar 1946

Dearest Darling,

Today I hit the jackpot.  I got seven letters from you and two others.  I suffered from shock for about two hours.  Seriously, it really gave me all the symptoms of real shock, as though I had witnessed a terrible accident or something of the sort.  I guess it was just too much for my heart to get all that mail at once after so long.  The secondary reaction is now setting in and I feel wonderful.  Two of the letters were new, dated 19 and 20 Mar.  The others were old ones filling gaps in previous correspondence.  They were all very sweet and I was glad to get every one of them.

I am glad you have joined the Ft. McPherson Officers Club and hope you get some good out of it.  It makes a handy place to duck into when you go to the commissary.  The commissary privileges must be quite valuable now from what you say.  You had better get all you can out of the army while the getting is good.

Your letter telling of receiving the telephone call was one of those that came today.  I am glad you enjoyed it.  So did I.  It was rather strategically timed, right in the middle of the mail breakdown, and helped keep me from worrying about you for some time, even though I got no mail.  I knew you were O.K. up to that date.  I may be able to call again before I leave.  I think they are lifting the "emergency" restriction.

When you get through taking movies of the spring color it might be a good idea to take the camera to a reliable camera shop and see if they can fix the governor so it won't slow down in cold weather.  That has ruined a lot of pictures for us.  I am anxious to see those good shots at Robles.

I find that I, too, take quite an interest in Chicago now that I am far away from it.  We get an overseas edition of the Chicago Tribune here once in a while and I read it with great interest.  It was a great experience to have behind us.

I am glad you got to talk to Col. Unger.  It was nice of him to call you up.

I am proud that Emily is doing so well in arithmetic.  If she catches on at this stage, she won't have any more trouble with it.  It all depends on understanding what you are doing.  It is also an excellent idea to learn some beautiful poems at that age.  They stay with you throughout life -- much better than things that are memorized later.  It sounds like she has a wise teacher -- a rare jewel.  The children do have some nice "coins" to remember, don't they?

You certainly must have a busy day, from the sample schedule you sent me.  There are many cultural advantages around Atlanta and you are smart to have the children take them in while you are there.  Have fun but don't overdo yourself.

You wrote me a good joke, so I'll have to tell you one (Arnold should be near to hear you laugh):

A Mrs. O'Brien had four sons.  The first three were great fighters and later went to Notre Dame and became great football heroes.  But the fourth son was good for nothing and a disgrace to the family.  Several times at confession the priest asked her if this last boy was really an O'Brien, but she always insisted that he was.  Finally one day she was taken ill and was on her death bed.  The priest was called in for a last confession.  He questioned her again about the fourth son.  She replied, "He is an O'Brien all right, but the other three are McGillicuttys."

I don't think I wrote the article on silk that you sent.  I don't handle the regular press quotes from our reports.  We just got out last report back from "upstairs."  I had personally written the chapter on the general economic picture for the month.  I had worked it over carefully, and not one word was altered by all the colonels and generals, including MacArthur, who read it.  Other sections didn't fare so well.  The old man himself is a pretty close and exacting editor and apparently reads every word.  I am enclosing a clipping giving his statement on approving Homma's execution, which I believe he wrote himself.  I think it is a good composition.  What do you think?

Thanks for the little violet.  It brought a beautiful message of love and spring and new hope.  I wish we could get together in our dreams, if not in reality.  I'll meet you halfway over the Pacific next Tuesday night at 1 A.M. at the international date line.

I hope Tom Lemly gets all right.

I enjoyed reading the letter written from Macon.  We will have to get bare-footed in the sand at the first opportunity.  And I'll spank you if you don't watch out.

I don't have an obe for my kimono yet and I am trying to get one for you, too.  They are hard to locate.  I have seen a couple that I thought would e nice with your kimono, but they were just too expensive.  I will get them before I leave though.  My kimono is plain black, lined with purple.  Its only ornamentation is three family crests, about one inch in diameter and woven into the silk in white.

When I get home I can wear summer clothes for some time and that will help.  If  you have a chance you might get me a few shirts 16-1/2 by 33 or 34.  And if you see any good material for a fall suit go ahead and get it and I can have a suit made this summer.  I find that in a scarce market you have to look way ahead and get things when you can.

It seems a shame that you all don't have any butter.  We have had an ample supply ever since I got here.  I was taking it for granted.  I am now conducting a self-imposed diet.  I keep the little Scripps Hospital book in my pocket at all times and make a record of the calories I eat.  I feel much better when I don't overeat.  It is hard to do for they give us about 3500 calories a day and in addition we have candy, nuts, cakes, beer and whiskey.  I am holding to about 1500 per day now.

I am glad you have a new treatment for Mont's impetigo.  I hope it is effective.  If you had had to give her Emily's old treatment I think I could have heard it over here.

I would like to see you in your new shoes and hat.  That would be all that would be necessary as far as I am concerned.  Did you get the brocade handbag containing the green silk that I sent some time ago?  Also, did you get the big book on the Nikko temples?

I have just read 11 letters from you dating from 25 Feb to 20 Mar.  I think most of my missing mail is in now.  It was fun to put them in the right order and read them as things really happened.  They tell a better story that way.

The pictures are some I took last weekend.  I didn't get one of Mr. Haiyoshi, the opera singer, but Mr. Wilson is going to give me one of his.  This was Jap film and is a little grey, but you can get the idea.

I love you more than I can tell you, my little sweetheart.  You are always in my thoughts and I long for you constantly.  I don't think I could ever get used to doing without you.  Spring is about to break out here and I am going to want you more than ever.  Time is passing and we will be together before long.

Loads of love,



Masaharu Homma was a general in the Japanese army during the war in the Pacific and played a key role in the capture and occupation of the Philippines in the early part of the war.  He is most famous for being the mastermind of the notorious Bataan Death March, in which over 10,000 Allied prisoners were killed during their transfer from the Bataan Peninsula to prison camps in 1942.  Although he retired before the end of the war, he was extradited to the Philippines in 1946 and tried before an Allied war tribunal.  He was found guilty of war atrocities and was ordered by Gen. MacArthur to be executed by firing squad on April 3, 1946, six days after today's letter was written.

General Homma

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Carl is finally stateside, and Bryant prepares to meet him

Today's letter from Frances is actually written in pencil, and at the end of the letter you will find out why.  The big news is that Carl is back in the U.S. and that he and Bryant will be reunited in a matter of days.

March 27, 1946

Dearest Lovely,

I hope you are getting my letters.  I have been writing regularly.  I have sent them all air mail, too.  It distresses me terribly when you don't get the mail.  I have been doing a lot of lobbying around as well as letter-writing to see what I can do to help the situation.

It will be a pleasure to house hunt with you, darling, even if things are hard to find.

If you start in Atlanta, you have a place already.  Bryant will be gone and we can have the big front room here.  If we go to Memphis, we have the place in Kerrville.  Really, I think we are fortunate to have two places available immediately.

Last night Carl called Bryant from Oceanside at Camp Pendleton.  He is stateside at least.  He has to process and discharge troops that live west of the Mississippi before he comes to Le Jeune.  It will be about 10 days.

Bryant is going to drive up to meet him at Le Jeune and leave Margaret here.  She has made herself some lovely clothes.

Today Bryant asked me to take her out to Fort McPherson to have her two wisdom teeth extracted.  The dentist couldn't take her until Friday.  She and I went to the Officers Club for lunch.  They serve very nice meals there.  The grounds are lovely and they adjoin the golf course.  I've used the club just as a place to eat out once or twice, but it is lovely for that.

Elizabeth would like to have me introduce her to some young officers out there, but I don't know anyone to start introducing me to any, much less some to her.  It is a like eating in a public place as far as meeting anyone is concerned.  I like that about it because the only one I'd like to meet there is you.

Martha is over here by me and is at the table with a pencil and paper, too.  She is scribbling on the back of an old envelope and having a gleeful time being big like Mother!

Much love,


Saturday, August 7, 2010

The cherry blossoms will be blooming soon

Spring is in the air in Tokyo as well as Atlanta, and Maj. Gillham gives a report about the famed cherry blossoms of Japan.  This is a very brief letter, but, interestingly, he wrote it on GHQ-SCAP stationery, which gave me an opportunity to let you see it via a scan. 

26 Mar 1946

Dearest Darling,

I got a letter today from Walter Oates' boy, Buddy.  He says he is in the ninth grade.  I can't realize it.  I must be getting to be an old man.

I got a pair of Japanese Army binoculars today.  I will send them along before long as all such trophies have to be mailed before 1 May.

The weather is a little better now and the Japs are forecasting that the cherries will bloom within a week.  I am anxious to see that -- then I will be ready to come home.

There really isn't much to write about tonight, but I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that I still love you.  Every day that passes now is one less that we will have to be separated.  They can't go by too quickly to suit me.  I'll bet that all of the children will have grown so much I will scarcely recognize them.

I certainly hope you are all well now and will stay that way.  I am taking the vitamin pills that you sent me regularly.

Loads of love,



Here is the first paragraph of the above letter, showing the letterhead of SCAP:

Incidentally, Walter Oates was a childhood friend of Maj. Gillam's, from Kerrville, Tennessee.  I visited him in 1974 with Frances and Maj. Gillham, and again in 1989 on my own while I was driving through Memphis.  On the second trip I got to meet Buddy's son, as well. 

Interestingly, the date of this letter is almost exactly 34 years after the planting of the first two cherry trees along the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC, on March 27, 1912.  The trees were a gift of the mayor of Tokyo and were planted by the First Lady, Helen Taft, and the wife of the Japanese ambassador, Viscountess Chinda.  The first National Cherry Blossom Festival was held in 1935, but festivals during the war were suspended and the tradition began again in the spring of 1947, a year after Maj. Gillham's letter.

In 1968 Lady Bird Johnson accepted a gift from the Japanese government of 3,800 new cherry trees, which were planted around the Tidal Basin.  I distinctly remember hearing about this when I was growing up, and for a long time I was under the false impression that these were the very first trees gifted to the U.S.  Below is a photo of the trees in bloom with the Jefferson Memorial


Friday, August 6, 2010

Frances resolves to stay fit

Frances is starting to feel the sloth of winter in her body and resolves to do more exercise in the spring.  We are now at the end of March, right when Atlanta is at its prettiest, so she is feeling the need to get out and use the car less.  She is taking the girls to Stone Mountain, which has since become a tradition in our family.  I remember quite well my first climb, in the 1970s, with my grandfather (Maj. Gillham) leading the way up the side of the mountain with his walking stick and canteen.

In this letter, Frances makes a distinction between a laxative and a cathartic, which according to Webster's are practically synonyms.  I suppose in the general usage of the day a cathartic was the stronger of the two.

March 26, 1946

Dearest Angel,

Tonight Elizabeth and I walked up to Ponce de Leon and Highland.  We watched the people bowling up there.  In fact we tried to ourselves, but we couldn't get an alley.  We sat and enjoyed watching.  It is the first exercise I've taken since I've been here.

Every time I go out, I drive in the car.  I am getting sedentary and flabby.  I have a terrible fever blister on my lip (glad you can't see it!) and the family are starting to put the pressure on me to take -- not laxatives -- but cathartics.  I will take one tonight because I have reached this stage, but I surely will watch out and not get to this stage again!

What I need is a climb up Fujiyama in the snow.  Mt. Le Conte would do in a pinch.  I shall try Stone Mountain with the children Sunday.  I guess I'll have to take Martha, too.  Sunday is a hard day to leave her here.  Everyone wants to get up and do on that day.

Mother Kai is better.  She gets up and sits in a chair now.

No, you had not told us about the nose painting custom of the Japanese.  We think that is certainly unusual.

Darling, I realized I had polished several of the pieces that were supposed to be bronzed, but they look nice and bright.

I had the second meeting of the Girl Scouts today.  I hope Emily appreciates my efforts for her.  She and Monty are most anxious to go to camp this summer.  Monty uses Emily's Brownie suit for her meeting and Emily is looking forward to a scout suit.

Emily is going to join the church at Easter.  She is going to a little class at the church in preparation for it.

How do you feel after your shots?  I hope you are better now.  I wish I could be with you, darling.  You are such a dear.

I love you mucho heapo.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Maj. Gillham goes to a "new" theater

In this letter Maj. Gillham tells of his visit to a newly renovated theater in the Ginza district.  It's interesting to note that vaudeville is still in fashion and that he uses the word "camp," which was coined in the 1910s and probably had the same meaning then that it has now.

25 Mar 46

Dearest Lovely,

Have just returned from the Ernie Pyle Theatre which is about two blocks from here.  They took over one of the best Japanese theatres and renovated it.  It is now a first-class place.  They have a vaudeville and picture, just like up town, no camp theatre stuff.  Everything here is always free -- trains, shows, refreshments, etc.  It is going to startle me when I have to pay for something again.

You have been very sweet and faithful about writing to me ever since I left.  When I don't get mail, I know it isn't because you haven't written, but just because the mail hasn't come thru.  This last batch of mail I received certainly did me a lot of good.

Hammers are ringing everywhere around here.  The tempo of reconstruction is increasing.  It is interesting to watch a city come back to life after such devastation.  I can see a great difference since I got here.

 I love you, my darling.  I can't write it as well as you do, but I love you just the same.


P.S.  The radio is playing "Goodnight Sweetheart"


The Ernie Pyle Theater was originally called the Takarazuka Theater, which was built in 1934 and was the premiere movie theater and showplace in the Ginza.  It was renamed after the Allies occupied Japan and was named for Ernie Pyle, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and war correspondent who had been killed in action during the war in the Pacific.  The theater reverted to the old name when the Occupation ended in 1955, and the structure was torn down in 1998 and replaced by another theater in ground floors of a new office building.

Ernie Pyle Theater in 1946